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brett jackson catchI’m already tired of hearing about Harbaugh versus Harbaugh …

  • Brett Jackson, thanks to a gaudy strikeout rate, struggled in his big league debut last year. The Cubs have conceded that those struggles were largely by design – they wanted him to see what he needed to work on, and they wanted to see the struggles up close – and have said Jackson will start the year at AAA Iowa to continue reinventing his swing. “We want [Jackson] to start in Iowa,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said, per CSN Chicago. “Things can happen over the course of a spring with injuries and whatnot, but I think we saw he’s got some things he can work on in Iowa. I look at it very, very similarly to the way I looked at things with Rizzo. [Jackson] can take some of those lessons back to Iowa. If he takes the same attitude Anthony did, I don’t see any reason he can’t do the same thing.”
  • … but Jackson, for his part, isn’t ready to hear that Iowa stuff. “I have every intention of making the team,” Jackson said at the Cubs Convention, per CSN. “I have no intention of going to Iowa. I’m going to keep working the way I always do. I’m confident in my ability and who I am as a player and who I’ve become as a player. I know what I need to do and I’ve set my mind on that goal and I’m not stopping until I’m there.” That’s not Jackson being obstinate, by the way. He’s just being a competitor, and saying what pretty much any player in his position would say (Rizzo said the same things last year). So long as he takes his (probable) Spring Training cut in stride, this is all good stuff.
  • As promised, the full set of Wrigley Field renovation photos, provided by the Cubs, is up now at the BN Facebook page. There are quite a few more pictures than I was able to share this weekend, and they’re larger for your viewing pleasure. Check ‘em out.
  • So, how about that lack of a Carlos Villanueva move yet? After Dale Sveum he expected the deal to be done “today” on Saturday, we’ve seen no movement. Clearly, the Cubs are desperately trying to swing a trade to open up a 40-man spot before having to resort to a DFA/waiver, but time is probably running out. I expect we see a move today or tomorrow.
  • The Iowa Cubs introduced their new manager, Marty Pevey, who emphasized that the key to developing players under his charge is that everyone at every level of the system is “teach[ing] out of the exact same book.” I like that.
  • Seedlings to Stars is ranking overall top prospects in baseball, and had an interesting inclusion at number 115: Cubs right-handed pitching prospect Barret Loux. On most organizational lists, Loux falls somewhere in the 15 to 20 range, so, unless the StS group is going to have an insane number of Cubs on their list, I’d say they’re considerably higher on Loux than most. Certainly his numbers last year were excellent at AA, but the concerns about the long-term health of his arm and the quality of his stuff remain. I’ve been intrigued by him from the day the Cubs swapped him out with Jacob Brigham, the righty with a troubled arm the Cubs received from the Rangers for Geovany Soto. He’ll almost certainly start the year at AAA, and pitching in the PCL could tell us a lot about his future.
  • Loux’s former teammate at Texas A&M Brooks Raley has already debuted in the show, but could be joining him in the AAA rotation to start the year. Raley came in for some comments from John Sickels, who is generally complimentary. Among his thoughts: “Raley is a four-pitch lefty, working with an 85-90 MPH fastball (averaging 88), a slider/cutter, a changeup, and a curveball. None of his pitches qualify as plus, resulting in a thin margin for error, but when he throws strikes he can be effective. He was tough on lefties in the minors and might transfer to LOOGY work. However, since he’s a very good athlete with a consistent delivery and good makeup, the temptation is to see if he can eat some innings as a fifth starter. The sabermetric case for Raley is a weak one, but for some subjective reason I think he might surprise us eventually with a Scott Diamond-like season.”
  • Dave Cameron provides modern context for just how good Stan Musial, who passed away this weekend, was at the plate: “Just using his career K% and ISO numbers, you’d essentially be looking at a hybrid of Darwin Barney’s contact skills and Josh Hamilton’s power.” Yeah, that’d be a mighty fine player. You might even call him The Man.
  • Remember Egraphs? They are that sweet digital way to interact with your favorite player by way of a personalized audio message and a digital signature/message (the kind of good idea I wish I’d thought of). Well, I’ve been given the opportunity to offer you all another chance to win an Egraph from your favorite MLB player *OR* NBA player, which they’ve added to the site. If you want to enter, here’s all you have to do: later this morning, I’ll post the Egraphs contest on the BN Facebook page, and you just have to (1) like the BN Facebook page, (2) find the contest post on the BN Facebook Timeline, and (3) drop a comment on which Cubs player you think would make the best pro basketball player and why. The best comment, in my completely subjective judgment, is going to win their choice of an MLB or NBA Egraph. The contest will end Thursday at 12pm CT, and I will send the winner a message on Facebook (so, like, make sure to check your messages).
  • Speaking of Facebook, here’s something that’s relatively new, which could help those of you who are avid Facebookers, but don’t see enough of the BN posts in your news feed – there’s a totally separate “pages” feed, which should pretty much show you everything that’s put up on the BN Facebook page. So, while on a Facebook bender, if you check your pages feed – which you can see on the left navigation bar on Facebook – you can quickly and easily check in to see if there’s anything new up at BN, or anything fun going on over at the BN Facebook page.
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  • Huch

    I would love to see B-Jax start at the Major League level. If he has made the adjustments give him the shot. He has the defensive skills, the speed that the team has been missing.

    • JB88

      I don’t want to put artificial numbers on it, but I’d really like to see Jackson’s K rate in the low 20s before he moves back to Chicago. I’d really, really love to see Jackson at about a .300 average in AAA as well. If you saw those numbers even for a few months, I’d feel a lot better about his long term success with the Cubs.

  • ssckelley

    I like Jackson’s attitude and I hope that translates into a productive centerfielder for the Cubs someday.

  • JB88

    That Seedlings to Stars list is pretty interesting. For one, Hak Ju Lee and Chris Archer come in at 92 and 80, respectively. Now, obviously, that is only one list, but they clearly aren’t as high on those two as others are.

    Brett Jackson comes in at 76 and the obvious critique is his K issues.

    Max Fried comes in somewhere in the 90s. I thought that was interesting because there were a lot of people here pining for him.

    None of Almora, Soler, or Baez have shown up at this point (they are working backwards and I looked at the list of 115 through 60). I’m quite curious to see whether guys like Vogelbach, Vizcaino and a few of the other Cub prospects.

    As a very interesting side note, StS is not particularly high on Teheran, ranking him at No. 70 and predicting that he doesn’t stay in the rotation in 2013.

    • blublud

      I pretty sure all 5 of the guys you named there, Almora, Baez, Vogelbach, Vizcaino, and Soler will be on this list, as they should be on any list of top 100 prospects. It’s funny that people say the farm is still lacking, but when I look at the Farm, I see 6 or 7 guys with the potential to be very good, out of which 3 or 4 who has a floor of being above average to good players at a minimun in the MLB. This time next year, the cubs might be in consideration for a top 2 or 3 farm system.

      • JB88

        The only one on which I’m not convinced is Vogelbach, simply because I would have expected him to show up by now, but I’ll be thrilled if he is listed in the top 60.

        As for a top 2 or 3 system, if that happens, then it means that the 2012 pitchers who the Cubs drafted far exceed expectations this year and a couple of the position players (outside Baez, Soler, and Almora) really take off and the upper minors (AA/AAA) starting to be populated by true big league talent. We’ll see if that happens, but I would just be happy to see the Cubs consistently mentioned as having a top 10 farm system.

        • blublud

          As for Vogelbach, his bat will carry him high on this list. He was listed as a top 50 hitting prospect halfway through last year, so unless this list is more pitching heavy then most list, which are usually pitching heavy anyway, then I don’t expect him to not make a top 115 overall list.

          As for the farm system, you might be right as far as not being top 2 or 3, as Loux, Jackson, Vizcaino, Vitters, and possibly, and I say possibly, Baez will all be in the Majors. I doubt Baez gets enough service time even if he does sniff the bigs this year to not qualify as a prospect, so he will still be on a list somewhere, probably in the top 5.

          • JB88

            You are making huge assumptions on who makes the majors. I think you have a better chance of winning the Pick 4 Lotto than you do of all 5 of those players being in the majors at the end of the year AND the reason the Cubs aren’t a top 2-3 farm system as a result of those 5 players being in the majors.

            I also think you are making huge assumptions on Vogelbach, which Kyle has admirably pointed out over the last few days. Vogelbach will only go as far as his bat. And his bat might be ridiculously special, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see some talent evaluators less enamoured with Vogelbach’s numbers at Rookie and Low A ball than others.

            • blublud

              I understand that about Vogelbach producing at such low level of the minors, but my projection is base off the scouting report on his hitting tools. His bat, regardless of level, is one of the best in the minors. This is not a fat guy who only hits homeruns. He is regaurded as a guy who can hit for average and doesn’t strike out a lot for the power he has. He is also very patience. Now as he advances, it could catch up to him, or, he can actually get even better. I heard the kid has good work ethics, so I betting he gets a whole lot better before he gets worse.

              • JB88

                It’s great that you are enamoured by his hit tool. But that gets you to only 2 of the 5 tools. Sure, Vogelbach’s power is probably 80 and his hit tool might be 65-70, but his speed, fielding, and arm are way down.

                And, I don’t think it is really that much of a leap to imagine that there are talent evaluators out there, who: (a) aren’t blown away (i.e., ranking a low A kid top 50 in the game) by Vogelbach’s Rookie and Low Single A numbers; (b) aren’t blown away by Vogelbach’s likelihood of MLB success based on his body; and (c) just aren’t ready to list a kid in the top 50 based on (a) and (b). That isn’t to suggest that he isn’t a prospect or that I don’t think highly of the kid, just that there are legitimate reasons to believe that not all talent evaluators are all going to rank him that high.

                • blublud

                  Thats fair. The question is do you think he’ll be able to hit as good as say, Jesus Montero. He was a catcher, who most reguarded as a DH. He didn’t look that impressive to me last year, yet he had pretty high trade value. His numbers look better as a catcher then as a DH, but I would group potential future value for Vogelbach in the same class as Montero. I’m not guaranteeing Vogelbach will be on this list in the top 50, but I do expect him to be in the top 115. Since we have not seen his name yet, I would expect an evaluator would over value his hit stick rather then under value his “lack of defensive.

                  S/N
                  I will admit I build a close connection with certain prospects. I don’t think it makes me think they are better then they are, I think the fact that I think they are better then people give them credit for is what attracts me to them. I’m a underdog type of guy.

                  • JB88

                    I hate to punt on whether Vogelbach will be as good a hitter as Montero, but I just don’t think we have enough information yet. If Vogelbach does this for the next two years and is raking at Double A, then yeah, I think maybe.

                    But—and I’m lazy, so I’m not going to try to track this down—was Montero ranked in the top 50 after finishing short season low A ball? I don’t know the answer, but I’d be surprised if he was. I actually wonder if some Cubs’ prospects are being overvalued because (a) they are with the Cubs; and (b) they are associated with Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod. I think we’ll start to get a better sense of that within the next few years.

                    The reality with prospects is the vast majority flame out and don’t meet the expectations of fans. I’m hoping for the best with Vogelbach because he presents an intriguing story, but I’m tempering my expectation based on history.

            • blublud

              Also, whether they have success or not once they arrive, I willing to bet we at least see all of Loux, Vizcaino, Jackson and Vitters in the majors at some point this season.

              • JB88

                I’d be shocked if we saw all of those guys in the majors this season. Absolutely shocked. By 2014, maybe you see all 4, but I just don’t see Loux and Vizcaino playing in the majors this season, especially with the Cubs already having 7 starters on the staff.

      • hansman1982

        “It’s funny that people say the farm is still lacking”

        Anyone who says this is talking about:

        1. The lack of high upside pitching
        2. The lack of impact players AA and AAA
        3. That we only have 3 impact talents (2 of which have yet to play a full season (Vogelbach is a DH and GM’s place prospect DH’s slightly above dead people in terms of value)).
        4. Their behind.

        • blublud

          I agree with 1, 2 and some of 3, which is why I stated next year. After 2013, most of our impact talent will be at AA or higher or in line to be promoted to AA in early 2014. I disagree with Vogelbach as a DH, as I’ve stated that I believe he can play 1st base at an average to above average rate. That’s all subjective until he reaches the higher levels, as most of us are not watching him on a daily bases. There are reports that suggest the he can, and there are ones that suggest he can’t. We will have to wait and see.

  • blublud

    I think Jackson will start at Iowa, but if he is ready, I would love to see him in the Majors right out the box. He would push Dejesus back to right which would be a major upgrade over Shierholtz, and his defense will be solid even if his bat struggles at first.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      There is no way the Cubs will believe he is ready, he will follow Rizzo’s timeline.

      • hansman1982

        Yup and if he is mashing he will also follow Rizzo’s reasoning.

      • blublud

        I definitely agree. Barring injury, I don’t think we see him until July at the earliest. however, if the Cubs are competative and lacking production from say only Right field, it could possibly speed up that process.

  • Mac

    Did you see Rosenthal’s conspiracy theory involving the Cubs and David Price?
    Here’s the link, it’s at the bottom of the page: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/felix-hernandez-seattle-mariners-discuss-extension-100-million-minimum-likely-012113

    • blublud

      This is interesting. I think the Cubs will be in play for Price, no matter what. I don’t think this theory is in play much, as Price will probably never reach free agency. The Rays will trade him first and with the haul he will require, no team will pay it without an extension. Essentially, Price will reach free agency next offseason, as he will be able to mostly determine his landing base off his willingness to extend. This is the only way this story could come into play.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I saw him talk about that on MLB Network’s Hot Stove this morning. It’s pretty far fetched but interesting, there are a lot of dominos that have to fall for Price to end up a Cub.

      • hansman1982

        Ya and I doubt that the Cubs minor-league pitching coordinator will have any bearing on that decision…$$$

    • hansman1982

      My favorite line:

      “File all that away for future reference”

      For when we commit you to the looney bin? Good God is that an insane conspiracy theory, right up there with ancient aliens, Hitler’s escaping to Venezuela and Sandy Hook as an inside job.

      • blublud

        I haven’t heard the Sandy Hook as an inside job one. Where do these sickos get there stories from.

        • hansman1982

          A Google search had the start date of one of the leading donation websites (Red Cross, United Way or one of those) as a couple days before the shooting. Right-wing lunatics jumped on this as proof that Obama orchestrated all of it to “Take err guuuuns”. (Think South Park’s “Take er Jobs” quote (I know, it’s not very good (much like most of my comedy)))

          • http://none millhah

            “if you don’t like america, you can git out!”

            • DarthHater

              You got a purty mouth, ‘Merica.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Yeah, like, move to Texas…. ;-)

              Sorry, couldn’t resist!

          • BluBlud

            Not to get into politics, but Obama had innocent kids killed to take away Guns. Wow, that’s just crazy.

            • hansman1982

              U S A! U S A! U S A!

              I really wish we could apply some “Natural Selection” on humans…

    • Marc N.

      I expect the Cubs will be in on Price and most of this conspiracy theory has already been said. Sloooooow news weeks in the MLB.

  • blublud

    I have been high on Barrett Loux since we got him for Brigham, and in my little make shift Cubs top 10 prospects a week or so back, I had him in my top 10. He is definitely a better pitcher then Brigham, which is why I don’t understand how Jed and Co. swung the second trade with the Rangers. He will suprise a lot of people and will be a very good, but not nearly great, pitcher in the League as early as this year. He and Vizcaino will be in our rotation for good by ST 2014.

  • itzscott

    Musial – I remember watching him on WGN with Brickhouse calling the play by play….

    Another guy that absolutely used to kill the Cubs.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Good attitude coming from Jackson. And it looks like we here in Des Moines are looking at an interesting season at ol’ Sec Taylor Stadium come April! I can’t wait!!!!!

    • Miggy80

      I’m also excited to see this years I-cub team!

      • Melrosepad

        Wife and I are looking forward to getting down a couple of times this year as well.

        • Katie

          Hope you folks coming to Iowa Cubs games consider going when some of us BN’ers will be there. Check the message board for dates.

  • Trent

    I hope Jackson makes it on the big league roster. That would likely push DeJesus back to RF and we wouldn’t have to watch Schierholtz play 130+ games there. I’m really not excited about Schierholtz.

    • hansman1982

      Ya, who wants a guy who had an .800+ OPS against righties playing right field against RHP this year?

      • Trent

        That’s fair. Are they going to platoon RF? I’m fine with him playing against RHP. It’s the LHP that makes me nervous.

        • hansman1982

          I don’t know that it’s be stated in so many words, but yes, basically a platoon.

  • North Side Irish

    Jim Salisbury ‏@JSalisburyCSN
    Phillies are considering signing Delmon Young. Story here: http://www.csnphilly.com/baseball-philadelphia-phillies/phillies-talk/Sources-Phillies-seriously-considering-s?blockID=825827&feedID=704

    Would probably finally put the Soriano to Philly rumors to rest…

  • North Side Irish

    Julie ‏@julierubes
    You all thought Twitter was slow last night, I have a feeling the @Cubs and @PearlJam might break Twitter today. #staytuned
    Retweeted by jon greenberg

    This would definitely provide some new funding for renovations…

  • Marc N.

    Barring something amazing I think Jackson spends at least a month in Iowa to show that his completely revamped, leveled up swing produces the wanted results.

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